The use of microbes in feed and animal nutrition attracted
more than 80 people to six seminars in Otago, Southland and
Organised by the AgBoard (Clutha Agricultural Development
Board) as part of its autumn extension programme, speakers
included Lincoln University's senior lecturer in animal
science Dr Craig Bunt, BioBrew's Don Pearson and Andre
Prassinos, and the AgBoard's science extension
responsibilities officer Graeme Pringle.
AgBoard project manager Malcolm Deverson said they were
expecting most of those attending to be dairy farmers, but
that was not the case. Dr Jacob Kleinmans, forage products
manager for Pioneer brand products spoke at Outram.
''We had wider interest from some sheep and beef farmers,
goat farmers, calf rearers, and horticulturalists,'' Mr
''We had some really interesting science presented and some
great conversations with anecdotal evidence about how
microbes are doing good things on farms - from odour
reduction to cleaning up algae in water troughs.
''There was lots of overseas science to support some of this,
but more needs to be done, too.''
One of the key features of the workshops were the results of
probiotic trials carried out on calves in South Otago in
The trial was one of the largest of its type done in New
Mr Pringle said they found that generally less meal was
consumed by calves treated with the probiotic, than those in
the control group.
He said BioBrew probiotics were given to 310 female calves
(Kiwi-cross and Friesian) on three farms. Each were given two
to three days of colostrum initially, then 20ml of probiotic
twice a day, in addition to regular feeding and watering.
They were then given 20ml once a day for seven weeks.
''They were also given ad lib meal and weighed weekly.
''The key thing is calves from two farms went on to pasture
at three or four weeks, while the others were kept in a
He said results included those on Farm 1 gained 18gm/day
compared to the control groups, while those in Farm 2 put on
57gm/day and those on Farm 3 put on 39gm/day.
There were 10 deaths, five of which were during particularly
The treated 40kg+ calves consumed 21% less meal, while the
treated 35kg-40kg calves ate 7% less meal and the under-35kg
calves consumed 19% more meal.
''Some farms reported the treated calves were easier to
handle. There was significant difference in liveweight gains
compared to the control groups in two of the farms.''
He said they did not know why that was, so more research was
required to find out why they grew faster.
- by Yvonne O'Hara